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Gendering History, Women Travel Writers and Architectural Experience

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8 December, 2021

Maria Graham, Countryside Chapel from Diario de residencia en Chile en 1822

During the autumn of 2021, Dr Anne Hultzsch (Women Writing Architecture: Female Experiences of the Built 1700-1900 (WoWA)) led a seminar around reading history from women’s perspectives, questioning not only the subject matter and ways of seeing it, but also the mechanism for writing. Using the form of ficto-criticism, students were encouraged to understand this method in relation to the scholarly-critical.

This collection is composed of the texts included in the seminar reading list that were written by women. Only 7 of the 38 texts were written by men (these are listed below).

This course will take the form of reading seminars in which we examine women’s travel writings of the 18th and 19th centuries for their commentary on the designed environment. While architectural histories often focus on male-dominated processes of design and production, this seminar sets out to discover architecture’s past as seen through the eyes of female travellers.

Students will gain experience in different forms of reading primary sources (close and distant) and in placing these into an appropriate context. We will explore methodological approaches linking literary analysis to lived architectural experience, expanding the canon of our discipline as we include the view of women into our understanding of 18th and 19th-century architecture. Students will be familiarized with feminist approaches, intersectionality, and marginal historiography.

Primary readings are accompanied by secondary texts on feminist and intersectional methods and embedded into practical exercises. Students will prepare short presentations, engage in reading and sketching exercises, and undertake their own ficto-critical writing.

Frontispiece to Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, 1897

The seven texts by men in the reading list:

Smethhurst, Paul. ‘Abroad’. In Forsdick, Charles, Zoë Kinsley, and Kathryn Walchester, eds. Keywords for Travel Writing Studies: A Critical Glossary, 1–3. London and New York: Anthem Press, 2019.

Laugier, Marc-Antoine. ‘Essay on Architecture (1753)’. In The Emergence of Modern Architecture: A Documentary History from 1000 to 1810, edited by Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis, 333–38. London: Routledge, 2004.

Thompson, Carl. ‘Journeys to Authority: Reassessing Women’s Early Travel Writing, 1763–1862’. Women’s Writing 24, no. 2 (3 April 2017): 131–50. https://doi.org/10.1080/09699082.2016.1207915.

Addison, Joseph. ‘The Spectator (1712)’. In The Emergence of Modern Architecture: A Documentary History from 1000 to 1810, edited by Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis. London: Routledge, 2004. 273–75

Gilpin, William. ‘“On Picturesque Beauty”, Three Essays (1792)’. In The Emergence of Modern Architecture: A Documentary History from 1000 to 1810, edited by Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis. London: Routledge, 2004.458–59.

Macarthur, John. ‘Introduction’. In The Picturesque: Architecture, Disgust and Other Irregularities. London: Routledge, 2007. 1-18.

Burke, Edmund. A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. 1757. Part II, i, ii, vii, viii; Part III, i, ix, xv.

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Gendering History, Women Travel Writers and Architectural Experience

During the autumn of 2021, Dr Anne Hultzsch (Women Writing Architecture: Female Experiences of the Built 1700-1900 (WoWA)) led a seminar around reading history from women’s perspectives, questioning not only the su...